After a quarter of a century photographing Western Australian people and places, Frances Andrijich feels like she understands the state’s regions, moods and characteristics so well that great images will result from every trip.
Story By Ken Eastwood
“All those years shooting in so many regions, I always feel like I know what I’m going into – you don’t leave much to chance,” Frances says. “But if something even better comes along, I’m still really open to shooting it.” Seeing each region as almost a separate country, she reads the way the landscape changes, and understands some of the other little differences that can affect a photograph. “Like as you come down to the Pilbara they stop wearing big Akubra-style hats – they wear caps,” she says. “Knowing those little things helps me feel prepared.”
Croatian by birth, Frances moved to Perth with her family when she was four. She became a teacher, teaching media studies to talented primary school students, but was studying photography at night, after becoming hooked on the craft in a friend’s darkroom. With a penchant initially for black-and-white photojournalism, she would constantly take photographs in her spare time. “I’d go to Kalgoorlie, because there was something happening, and I’d just shoot it for myself,” she says.
After having kids, she decided she wouldn’t go back to teaching, but build up a photography business, initially with weddings and real-estate photography, until she nervously had her first editorial commission, shooting Janet Holmes à Court for Fairfax’s Good Weekend magazine. Since then, Frances has amassed a vast library of work, shooting for newspapers, magazines, exhibitions, her own books, and many corporate clients, including wineries, LandCorp and tourism bodies. She is particularly known for her portraits within the vast spaces of the Western Australian landscape – both celebrities and everyday outback people. “In Australia we define ourselves by these outback characters, even though it’s a minority of people who live in depopulated places,” she says. “When I do photograph people in those settings, there is such a strong connection to the environment and who they are. Through their visual identity they show they are proud to be who they are – their gestures, their stature.”
Frances says she has plenty of favourite places in the state in which to photograph, but it isn’t always dramatic locations – it could be somewhere as simple as the salmon gums around Kalgoorlie. “You get seduced into the landscape,” she says.
“You don’t need undulations to make the landscape look amazing … Rather than pretentious suburbs with houses like office blocks, you go anywhere in nature and it just gets it right. There’s no bad taste in nature.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #93
Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2014